The future of Freo Oval post Dockers

Yesterday WA Today ran an interesting piece on the Fremantle Dockers and the future of Fremantle Oval which I have posted below.

The context for this is (building on recommendations of the Freo 2029 visioning document) the City of Fremantle has been working with the Fremantle Dockers, West Australian Football Commission, East Fremantle Football Club, South Fremantle Football Club, and the Department of Sport and Recreation on what is the best use and design for Fremantle Oval when the Dockers depart.

While we’d still prefer the Dockers to stay   it is an opportunity to make Fremantle Oval a better used sporting and community space with a WAFL game every weekend, improved spectator facilities as well as other sports and music and community events on the oval.

Potentially both South Fremantle and East Fremantle could share the ground as there the home ground with a WAFL Centre of Excellence also located there.

It is a great opportunity (slightly born out of some disappointment) for a great new community facility and we hope to have the first draft from the consultants working on this in coming weeks.

freo oval

Dockers ask for millions from City of Fremantle before move to Cockburn


The Fremantle Dockers are playing hardball over their long-awaited move to Cockburn, asking the City of Fremantle to pay them millions to vacate premises at Fremantle Oval – despite the fact the council never wanted them to leave in the first place.

The Dockers, the City of Cockburn and Curtin University are co-funding the $109 million aquatic and recreation facility under construction at Cockburn’s Central West, with the help of $12.4 million in state and federal government grants. Another $3 million in state funding has also been applied for.

WAtoday understands the Dockers have asked the Fremantle council for a sum in the region of $4 million for the building they will vacate at Fremantle Oval, despite electing to move their traditional base after the council fought to keep the club there with a proposed development to rival the Cockburn bid.

City of Fremantle chief executive Graeme Mackenzie confirmed the Dockers had indicated they believed there was value to their building at Fremantle Oval and if they vacated the building would want payment for this.

He could not confirm the amount, but did say the club built the clubhouse in 2000 with the help of a $2 million loan the city took out on its behalf.

If they vacate the building, the Dockers will also be breaking a lease that is only scheduled to end in 2054.

Another option is for the Dockers to keep a nominal presence, such as a club shop, at the oval.

The continuing uncertainty has long hampered City of Fremantle’s ability to finalise its plans for the oval and surrounds, including the Stan Reilly aged care centre.

The Fremantle council has teamed with the WA Football Commission, Department of Sport and the Dockers to look at the oval’s long-term viability and under a council proposal, the rival East Fremantle Sharks and South Fremantle Bulldogs could once again share the oval again as they did in the 1950s.

Dockers strategic projects general manager Brad Paatsch said a draft copy of that report was expected to be presented to stakeholders “in due course”, after which the Dockers would be in a position to consider the future options for Fremantle Oval.

Fremantle councillor Rachel Pemberton said the Fremantle community and council had long supported and taken pride in the Dockers.

“It’s a shame they want this significant amount of money when we didn’t even want them to leave,” she said.

“But we have not been able to use Fremantle Oval for a long time as a community facility and it is a fantastic one.

“So if anything good is to come out of this it will be being able to use it again for community events and relieve the pressure on the Esplanade Reserve, which has taken a bit of a hammering.”

The Keep Freo in Freo action group, formed in 2012, has battled the move, saying it amounts to a betrayal of the city.

A spokesman for the group said this latest development was “a bit like the petulant 21-year-old giving the bird to the parents as he leaves the supportive family home of his upbringing”.

“Free rent for 21 years and this is the thanks,” he said.

“It needs to be remembered that when the WAFC tried to force Fremantle to move to Subiaco, the Fremantle Council bent over backwards to help the Fremantle Football Club with free rent and a cheap loan. The council also gave the Dockers exclusive rights to the oval which meant a lot of traditional community events had to find a new home and even South Fremantle had to compromise on how it could use the oval.

“The Dockers building was built largely with community support by people who passionately got behind Fremantle staying in Fremantle. In addition, they are receiving taxpayers’ money to relocate into a new building and now have the cheek to ask the taxpayers to buy their old digs back.

“The state and federal governments should just tell the Dockers that they’ve already got a great free ride and that they need to stop being so greedy. When you break a lease and walk away from a commitment, you don’t get a payout.”

The Fremantle counter-offer to Cockburn was for a $100 million redevelopment of a 6000-square-metre site comprising Fremantle Oval and surrounds.

But in December 2012 the Dockers’ preference for the Cockburn site became clear as Cockburn signed a non-binding heads-of-agreement as the basis for preparation of a business plan.

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About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

3 Responses to The future of Freo Oval post Dockers

  1. johnwv says:

    Well well, another reason to not support the Dockers.. See you Fremantle Dockers, the Angel’s penned an appropriate song for this latest historical development….”am I ever gonna see you face again, (in Fremantle) no way get…………..!
    A Freo resident and West Coast Eagles member.

  2. Reblogged this on Local Govt. and Subiaco and commented:
    Just when everything appears as certain, its not certain. That’s why we want to make Subiaco Oval the FOREVER HOME of the West Coast Eagles.

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